When dealing with challenging situations in life, one often feels quite helpless and uncertain about the future and what it holds. At times like these it is best to simply use the power of one’s mind to keep themselves going.
Positive reaffirmations are basically optimistic statements or assertions made to oneself. Reinforcement on the other hand, is the process of encouraging oneself to believe and act upon the reaffirmations. An example of a positive reaffirmation would be “I am the best at what I do”. Convincing oneself into believing this statement is reinforcement.
The process of reinforcement can be rather complex.It takes quite a few attempts in order to ensure that one’s own mind has indeed accepted the reaffirmation as a reality and is willing to take them as solid facts. Additionally, if the reaffirmations are to be followed up with some actions then the process of reinforcement may be a bit more intricate.
Reinforcing actions could involve either positive or negative reinforcement; or both of them. Positive reinforcement is when a desirous stimulus is provided upon the completion of the required action. For example, suppose an individual’s aim is to write a book and the required action is to write two pages per day. The positive reaffirmation in this case could be “I am absolutely capable of writing two pages every day.” The positive reinforcement would be that upon writing two pages, the individual treats themselves to their favorite food.
Negative reinforcement can be of two types: escape and active avoidance. When we speak of “escape” it means that a negative stimulus is removed once the required action has been completed. “Active avoidance” is when the completion of the required action helps avoid a negative stimulus.
With reference to “escape”, taking forward the same example of writing a book, until the two pages are not written, the individual can keep the temperature of the central heating system a little higher than normal. This would encourage them to hurry up and write those two pages as soon as possible rather than putting off the task till later. Once the two pages have been written the negative stimulus can be removed i.e. the temperature can be reduced.
Speaking about “active avoidance” in the context of the same example, the awareness that not writing two pages could cause the individual’s publishers to withdraw their funding support would act as a reinforcing message, as writing those two pages every day will help them avoid the given negative stimulus.
In summary, positive reaffirmations and reinforcement help overcome challenges as they tend to keep an individual motivated and on the right track.